Disclaimers: See Part One.
Feedback is always appreciated and can be sent as per the usual: Terias_McKlay@hotmail.com
*Author's Note: Since I've been rather remise in updating regularly I thought I would post two parts at once. Then, I realized I was going on vacation and probably won't have a computer for a while. So, instead of continuing the rather infrequent updates, I decided that it might be best to simply do a mass post and finish off the story since it has been done for months anyways. To everyone out there that's still reading, these are the last three parts. Enjoy!*
Brian waited until the woman opened the lobby door before dashing across the street. He grabbed the door handle a second before it closed and slipped inside the building. He'd seen Lexina leave 15 minutes ago and saw his chance to get back into her apartment and grab the book.
Now that Siobhan was out of the picture the Boss figured the magical protection should be weak enough to make another try for the book.
He took the stairs to the top floor of the building nearly keeling over at climbing so many steps. He pushed open the stairwell door approaching the apartment door warily: he didn't want to be zapped with lightning or turned into a frog if the shield hadn't been deactivated. He looked curiously at the note that was taped to the door.
Meg, Oct. 12th , 5:30pm
Found the book, back soon.
Brian tried the doorknob not surprised to find it locked. He grabbed his lock pick set from his wallet and worked it into the lock of the door trying to wedge the deadbolt open. He heard the door down the hall click as it opened and cursed his luck. He quickly slipped his tools into his back pocket and tried not to look suspicious as the woman stepped into the hallway.
She wore a baseball cap that concealed her hair and shadowed her eyes. Her gait was strong and steady and for a fleeting second he thought it was Lexina back from the hospital. Then he caught sight of the blonde wisps of hair poking out from underneath the cap and relaxed slightly.
"Brian? Is that you?" Who in the hell..? Oh, you've got to be kidding.
"Hey Megan, yeah it's me," he said in greeting watching as his ex-girlfriend walked toward him.
"What are you doing here?" She asked looking her ex-boyfriend up and down suspiciously.
"Visiting a friend, not that it concerns you anymore," he responded acidly. She'd dumped him during the summer after her graduation. His pride was still stinging and he made no show of concealing his dislike of her.
"Whatever, if you'll excuse me I have somewhere to be."
"What are you doing here?" Brian asked as she brushed past him and went to Lexina's door.
"Explain to me how that's any of your business," she replied as she ripped the note from the door, crumpling it in her hand with a low growl. "That pigheaded, stubborn daughter of a…" Megan shook her head, "damn her."
"You know Lexina?" Brian questioned incredulously as he raised his eyebrows. The blonde rarely associated with those outside her clique and from what Brian had seen Lexina didn't meet any of the requirements.
"Yeah I do, what's it to you?" She asked beginning to tire of Brian already. That was the main issue that had broken up their relationship though she hadn't told him so. He was a decent guy but had a personality that was only tolerable to her in small doses.
"Nothing, I just figured she wasn't your type, is she home?"
My type? What the hell is that supposed to mean?
"No," Megan answered ignoring the barb. "She's not, but I'm sure you already knew that," she said indicating with her eyes the spot on the door where the note had been taped.
Brian shrugged noncommittally and Megan grabbed him by the arm and pulled him away from Lex's apartment.
"As much as I've enjoyed this friendly little chat I have things to do, so why don't you go do your homework little boy?"
Megan pushed open the door to the stairwell and nudged Brian down the stairs following behind him.
"I'm not sure how you got into the building but I seriously suggest you call before dropping in next time." The blonde said shoving the younger teen out the lobby door and into the parking lot.
"You can't tell me what to do Meg," Brian argued as Megan released him and walked toward her Jeep.
"You're right I can't, but Lex isn't particularly fond of surprises so I highly encourage you to take my advice." With that she unlocked her door and got into her Jeep.
Brian shook his head and began the walk to his car, now that it appeared Lexina had found the book he'd have to go straight to her in order to get it and save his skin.
"Lexina, it's good to see you," Athena said as the Shadow Hunter walked in the door. "Listen, I may have some ideas as to who sent the demon."
"I figured it out," Lex said tonelessly as she tossed her book bag on the bed and unzipped it.
"Well done," she said with a little surprise, "who is it?" Athena asked as her gaze dropped to the bag.
"His name's Gideon, sound familiar… Emma?" Lex asked, her Dhaskalos turned a startled look on her. The usually calm brown eyes revealed an emotion Lex couldn't quite place, something like pride mixed with anger. And fear, there was a definite look of fear.
"How did you…? Where?"
"No! I'm asking the questions. And believe me I've got tons. Like this," Lex held up Gideon's book. "What the hell is this?"
"It's complicated Lexina, there's more to the story than you could know, you wouldn't understand."
"Being betrayed by the people you trust most," Athena spat out bitterly. "To have your life mean little more than the value of a book."
"Enlighten me," Lex said as she took a seat in the chair next to the bed. She adjusted her coat around her body to make herself more comfortable and looked at her Dhaskalos expectantly.
"I was a day short of 18 when the Tribunal sent me on a mission to retrieve Gideon's book. I was young, naïve and under the deluded impression that the Tribunal actually cared about what happened to me. I was betrayed, the Tribunal knew my Dhaskalos felt I had no chance to survive my mission and because he spoke out against them he was killed."
"The Tribunal would never do that," Lex argued.
"I have protected you from the bureaucracy and infighting of the Tribunal Lexina but make no mistake. They are as vulnerable to corruption as the police officers whom manage this city. They killed my Dhaskalos to silence him, he spoke out against using a Protégé as cannon fodder and Ackerman saw it as treason. He was left in a dungeon to rot while I sacrificed my life for the Tribunal's gains."
"Why? What's so important about Gideon's Book of Shadows? Is it worth the life of a Protégé?" Lex asked trying to get her mind around all this. If what Athena said was true was she really wrong in taking the book?
"It's hard to say, but understand this Lexina, to the Tribunal, Dhaskalos, Protégés and even Hunter's themselves are no more than tools to be manipulated and tossed away once they have outlived their usefulness."
"So what happened? How did you escape and how did you end up with the book?" Lex leaned forward curious what Athena's story would be.
"As I said it was the night before my 18th birthday when I was given my assignment." Athena narrated her story pausing only to catch her breath. "When I woke up I was more terrified then I had ever been."
Emma came to with a groan. Her head ached, her back hurt and she revelled in the pain. It meant she was alive and as far as she was concerned that was a still good thing. She was bound, hand and foot to the same table only now she had been strapped down at the neck as well. Her captor wasn't in the room, that much she could tell, even in the dark. Question was how long did she have until he came back?
Emma pulled on her restraints vainly trying to loosen the leather straps. The girl began arranging words in her mind trying to come up with a simple unbinding spell. She'd never written her own spell before, she only hoped she was doing it right.
"Binding straps fall from me,
Goddess help this witch go free,
Protect me from mine enemy,
Merciful God I call to thee,
Let these bindings be unbound,
And physical freedom found."
Emma smiled as the buckles on her right hand loosened and pulled itself free. She quickly undid all other straps and jumped off the table. Her bare feet felt cool as she stepped across the stone floor. Her clothes and the map of the fortress along with the spell to get home were nowhere to be found.
Emma cursed softly, she didn't really need her clothes -although it was rather cold- and she had committed the spell to get her home into her memory before she left. The book, however, was another matter entirely, she had no idea how to get around the castle without the map.
"Brilliant Emma, your first real mission and you've failed before you've begun. At this rate it's a good thing I haven't been chosen as one of the Thirteen."
"Well you'll hear no argument from me." Emma whipped around to see the blonde man smiling humourlessly at her. The girl gulped nervously, she hadn't sensed him at all this time.
There was no warning, no soft creaking as the door opened or audible click of boots on stone. It seemed there was much more to this warlock then met the eye.
"Stupid girl, you would throw your life away over the Tribunal."
"It's not throwing it away if it's for the greater good," Emma said as she eyed her opponent warily, she didn't stand a chance if they went into magical combat. He'd probably wipe the floor with her in a physical battle as well. It was a true lose lose situation for her.
"You know they betrayed you don't you? That fool Ackerman knew you would never get the book. Do you know how many private missions he's sent here without the Tribunal's knowledge? He only turned to you Protégés because his own coffers were running empty. And who would be the best options for the missions? Fully trained Protégés who were deemed unworthy of being a Thirteen. It prevents them from risking a Hunter in this futile little attempt and if the Protégé is killed, well then, it's no skin of Ackerman's back."
"You're lying," Emma stated with considerably more confidence then she felt. Wisps of half remembered conversations between Head Tribunal members came to the fore of her memory. Tendrils of doubt crept into her mind as she listened to the warlock without truly hearing him.
"Pathetic, you're letting yourself be ruled by your emotions rather than logic."
"My Dhaskalos weaned me off that trait long ago." Emma backed away slowly from the warlock moving toward the fireplace.
"Think little girl, I know you can figure it out. You come a dime a dozen and for a mission like this they needed the best of the best, someone with magical ability, physical strength and the will to die."
"No that's not true," Emma shook her head, the Tribunal was her rock they couldn't possibly betray her. She'd given them everything
"Let me show you," the warlock pointed to a bowl full of water and Emma slowly edged toward it. She kept as far from Gideon as possible going through plans of escape as he chanted a spell that would turn the bowl of water into a scrying bowl.
Carlson was marched in front of the Head Tribunal where Ackerman sat at the bench. Words were spoken and Emma got the jist of it from her ability to lip read. Carlson was being accused of something, treason, if Emma was right. For defending me? How is that treason? Oh god, no…
"Leave him alone!" She screamed at the bowl, foolish since they couldn't hear her.
The Protégé watched as Carlson was led from the room at gunpoint and tossed into the Tribunal's less then pleasant dungeons.
"No, it can't be true," Emma stated as she slid down the wall and put her face in her hands.
"I can help you take revenge," he said as he touched her cheek. Emma turned into his touch letting herself bathe in the hatred that was consuming her.
"All I need is a little blood, I can perform the spell and we can both be free of this place." He couldn't mean the spell she'd brought with her. That was specifically tuned to her aura, it wouldn't do him any good.
He has his own spell in his book you pathetic little sot, he's a blood mage.
Emma wasn't stupid, a spell of the magnitude required to break down a dimensional barrier needed more than 'a little blood'. It would probably be more in the range of every drop he could wring from her lifeless body.
I don't think so. She would have her revenge but she didn't need the warlock to take it.
Although his little book might be helpful.
"Show me the book." Emma demanded as she stood and pushed the warlock away. He smiled at her and pulled a vicious looking dagger from his waistband.
"First things first, some blood." Emma squinted at him and took a step back.
"Why can't you use your own blood?" The Protégé asked as he took a step forward.
"Because it has to be the blood of someone who's pure," he raised his eyebrows suggestively. "Innocence is hard to come by in these parts, it being a hell dimension and all." He waved the knife around and took another step forward. "Now about that blood."
"A drop now, the rest after I've seen the book."
"What's the fascination with the book Little One?" He picked up an empty bowl and handed it to Emma.
"I just want to see the thing the Tribunal is so willing to sacrifice me for." Emma snapped the clay bowl in her hands and ran the sharp edge across her palm. Blood immediately began to run from the cut, a deep red stained the clay shard and the Protégé tossed it to the warlock. "You'll get more once I see the book."
"Very well," he tucked the dagger back into his waistband and held out a hand to the Protégé. "Come with me young one, I'll show you what you seek."
Emma ignored the hand but followed behind the warlock as he pushed on a brick that opened a hidden door. They descended a set of steps the narrow passage making it hard for Emma to manoeuvre. The brunette debated whether she'd be able to relieve the warlock of his knife without his knowledge.
No time like the present to see. She had been a master pickpocket as a child, her parents had never been wealthy and the best way for a young one to earn a living was to pick up a trade. It just so happened that thievery had been Emma's.
Alright, steady as she goes Em, you can do this. She picked up the way his hips moved as he walked and took a ghostly grip of the knife inching it upwards and away from his waistband.
Heh, I am good. Now all I have to do is get him to show me the book and I am out of here. Ah never mind that. Emma could see into the cave like room where a book rested on a large podium.
Sorry warlock but you've outlived your usefulness. Emma raised the knife overhead and brought it down with as much force as she could muster. The blade sunk into Gideon's back up to the hilt dark blood pouring from the wound.
"Ahh, you little bitch!" Emma ripped the knife from his flesh and kicked him in the back of the knee collapsing his leg. She grabbed him by the chin and slammed his head into the stone wall letting his unconscious body fall to the floor. "How's that for purity asshole?"
The Protégé gave him a last kick in the stomach before stepping over his lifeless form and into the room. Wasting no time she grabbed the book from the podium and tossed it onto a chest full of clothes. She pulled a pair of pants from the chest wrapping the cord tightly around her waist to keep them from slipping off her hips.
"Time to get out of this hell hole," her guts suddenly told her something was wrong and
Emma barely evaded the kick at her head. She grabbed the book and swung it around connecting with the warlock's temple. He hit the ground with a thud and Emma drove a knee into his head.
Blood poured from his nose and Emma dashed for the door pulling tables down behind her as she went. She knocked over a shelf covered in candles setting the rugs aflame. The fire reached the tapestries on the ceiling and quickly spread around the room trapping both her and the warlock.
"You've killed us both," he screamed as the flames licked at his clothes.
"Maybe not," a tapestry dropped from the ceiling and a wall of fire shot up separating the warlock and the Protégé. Emma chanted the return spell and slowly a portal opened in front of her revealing the inside of the London building.
Without a second thought Emma jumped through and closed the portal behind her. She climbed up the basement steps and ducked under the debris that blocked the front doorway. It seemed like a lifetime ago that she'd climbed the walls outside. Emma kicked the door open and ran out into the waning night.
"Emma? Is that you?" Carlson asked as the darkened figure came up to the door.
"Yes, are you alright?" A wet hacking cough was her answer and Emma heard her Dhaskalos walk toward her.
"I'm afraid we've been bested my girl."
"I can get you out of here," Emma said, "no one saw me come in. We can escape and reek vengeance on the Tribunal for what they did to us."
"I'm afraid it's too late for that Emma, you must leave before you're discovered."
"I won't go without you Carlson, you're my family," Emma argued reaching in through the bars to capture her Dhaskalos' hand with her own.
"You've no choice my child, take this." Emma felt cool leather touch her fingers and took a grip on whatever Carlson was handing her. "It's the account of your training, take it and go."
"No," Emma wrenched on the door and she heard Carlson slide against it. "Carlson?" No answer. "Carlson?!" She whispered harshly bumping the door to rouse an answer from her Dhaskalos. She felt with her mind for her Dhaskalos' aura seeing it fade and disappear behind the door.
No, oh god, Carlson.
"Who's down there?" She heard a guard yell from the top of the stairs.
"This won't go unpunished," Emma swore to her mentor before ducking out of the cell block the way she had come.
"Where's Carlson?" Emma asked looking up at Ackerman and the Head Tribunal.
"Your Dhaskalos was a participant in a conspiracy against the Tribunal Miss Morrow. He was being held in the cells."
"Was?" Emma asked her eyes narrowing, she closed her eyes briefly so the Tribunal couldn't see the changing of her irises to a deep black.
"He was found this morning, dead. I'm sorry Miss Morrow." He gestured to a page at the side bench and the young man walked over to the podium where Emma stood. He handed her a dossier which she opened careful not to drop any papers. Reports of treason from various sources dated as far back as a year after she'd been identified as a Protégé.
Goddess they've been planning this for years, every mistake we've ever made has been misconstrued into treason.
Emma felt the now familiar hatred begin to well up inside her.
I could destroy them all right now. The girl shook her head. No, that's not enough I want vengeance. I'll rip their precious organization apart piece by bloodied piece.
"He was a traitor?" Emma asked consciously returning her eyes to their normal color before looking at her superior.
"I'm afraid so."
"Then he got what he deserved, it was for the greater good," Emma stated. Inside she scoffed, feed them the right lines and they would never question. They were so enamoured with the idea of their own superiority they could never believe she'd be capable of duping them.
"Of course," Ackerman nodded his approval.
I'm going to beat you like a drum you self-righteous bastard.
"Now to your assignment. Did you obtain the book?"
"No, I had it in my possession but it was knocked from me in the fight. When the room caught fire it was destroyed and I was barely able to escape before the entire place came down on me." Emma stated projecting as much regret and sincerity in her voice as she could.
"A flaming mass of warlock when I left, I've no idea of his recuperative capabilities though."
"No matter, without his book he is of little threat to our dimension."
"Then my mission wasn't a complete failure?"
Like I care, I have the book and the power and the Tribunal hasn't a clue.
"Hardly," Ackerman looked down at the Protégé. He remembered the scraggly little fosterling they'd found. No regular person would have guessed it was possible for that child to become the powerful witch that stood before him.
She would never be chosen as one of the Thirteen, she'd already been informed of that. The Seers had declared she was not destined to be a Shadow Hunter rather, she was meant to train one. Therefore, she was an asset to the Tribunal and he would have to make sure her loyalties were cemented.
Not that they didn't seem solid now, but after this debacle with her Dhaskalos one couldn't be sure. The Tribunal hadn't existed this long by taking chances.
"You've proved your worth to the Tribunal both as a warrior and as a witch young Emma. You won't be Chosen, I'm sure you've been made aware of that already. But it would be a waste of your training and talent if you went back to the 'normal' world. I'd like for you to begin training as a Dhaskalos." He already knew what her answer would be, none of them could go back to the so called 'real world', not in good conscience.
"I would be honoured to continue my service with the Tribunal," Emma said with a slight bow.
Now I'll tear you apart from within.
"If it is Gideon he'll send more demons and he'll come for me, I wasn't exactly polite when I left him to burn," Athena said as Lex got up and adjusted her coat. She took the book from Athena's grasp and tucked it under her arm.
"I can handle demons and I doubt that if I have the book that Gideon is going to make you the priority," Lex said. "Which could be a problem because I'm not sure I can beat a warlock who was capable of breaking free of the Other Realms."
"I can defeat him, but I will need to keep that," Athena said pointing at the book. Lex considered for a second. Athena was far more experienced than she in the matters of magic, but as injured as she was there was little chance her Dhaskalos would be able to defend against Gideon's advances.
"No way, I can't afford to make you a target," Lex shook her head and held up a hand to silence Athena's protests. "If he comes you won't be able to defend against him. Not in that condition, I have to keep this thing away from both of you until you're better." Lexina put the book in her bag.
"Otherwise he'll get the book and go after the Tribunal. I'll come by later, well find out some way to get you out of here and we'll head for Rome. There's five other Hunters there, we'll be safe until we get this figured out." Lex slipped on her backpack and walked to the door. Her hand was on the door handle when Athena's voice stopped her.
"Lexina, I never meant for my past experiences with the Tribunal to harm you. I was only trying to bring justice to the Tribunal and keep the book from getting into the wrong hands."
"I just… I know what it's like to lose the people you love Athena, I don't understand why you didn't tell me. I can still believe in the cause and not the carrier, being a Hunter doesn't mean I have to be a puppet of the Tribunal." With that the Hunter opened the door and turned to leave.
"Don't ever think it wasn't that I didn't trust you. You are the closest thing I have to a daughter. I didn't want you getting caught up in this cycle of vengeance and hatred. You've already seen so much death, I wanted to protect you from what little I could before…" Before some vamp gets lucky and the next poor son of a bitch has their life turned upside down.
"All good reasons Athena, but you forget one thing," Lexina opened the door leaning her head against the doorframe to look at her Dhaskalos. "Death is my gift," and then she was gone.
"Jesus, don't do that," Megan snapped as Brian sat down beside her on one of the hospital couches.
"Is she with her Aunt?" Brian asked.
"No," Megan answered with a sigh. "She was here but she left and Athena has no idea where she went." The blonde girl stated recalling how long it had taken to convince Athena that she was Lex's friend. It had finally been a truth spell that had done it though the expense of energy it had cost the ailing Dhaskalos had left the woman weak.
All she'd gotten from the injured Brit was that Lexina had stalked off somewhere without much explanation. Megan hadn't had the heart to tell the woman of Siobhan's death when it had become apparent Lex hadn't told her. She'd save that discussion for the Hunter.
Megan contemplated going back to Lex's apartment but she thought it unlikely the Hunter would return until she had resolved whatever it was she and her Dhaskalos had spoken about. Maybe she could track Lex down.
Right, I'll get right on that. God I'm a moron sometimes. This city is huge and I haven't the faintest idea as to where she may be. Athena says a locator spell is useless because of the barriers she and Siobhan put up around Lex and the book.
Not to mention wherever Lex went trouble was sure to go and the only fighting she'd done was in the weekly self defence class her gym offered.
I always did love a challenge. Megan stood and put on her coat, the leather barely touched her knees and let Megan take the longest strides her short legs allowed her. Brian fell into step beside her easily matching her pace.
"Where are we going?" Brain asked curiously as they walked out into the cool evening air. Despite it being only eight o'clock the sun was already well below the horizon and its dying rays cast an eerie glow on the hospital.
"I'm going to find Lex," Megan said putting the emphasis on 'I'.
Less than two days with the girl and I'm already picking up her bad habits, Megan thought with a smile as she unlocked her Jeep.
"I'm coming with you," Brian said firmly as he slid into the passenger seat.
"Excuse me? I don't think so," Megan shook her head and motioned for him to get out.
"You know something you're not telling me, I'm not leaving until you fess up."
"Fine, I don't have time to argue just sit there and shut up," Megan ordered as she put the Jeep in gear and sped down the road.
"Ugh," Lex grunted as a vampire nailed her in the stomach with a punch. The Hunter returned it with one of her own, flipping the vampire onto his back from the sheer force of the blow. She grabbed a piece of the wooden bench she'd broken and rammed it into the vampire's chest. He disintegrated into a pile of ash and Lex took off after the vampire that had evaded her slaying spree.
She vaulted off a tombstone and landed on his back shoving his face into the ground. A quick thrust of the stake created another pile of dust and Lex stood with a satisfied sigh as she dusted off her coat. Movement in her peripheral vision alerted Lex to another presence and she took a defensive stance her backpack nestled firmly on her shoulders.
She really hadn't thought out her plan very well when she'd ventured into the cemetery. The Hunter hadn't thought about much other then her need to go out and kill something.
Now if I was a postal worker this would be a problem but since killing is in my job description I'm not feeling so bad about my whole violent tendency thing. However the severe lack of pointy objects could pose a wee bit of problem.
The only weapon she had was a small dagger she had in her boot, hardly enough to take care of anything more threatening than a regular human thug. She even lacked a proper stake, admittedly one of the dumber things she'd done lately. Lex backed away from where she'd seen movement. As much as she wanted to pummel whatever was scurrying around the cemetery she couldn't risk it, unarmed, with Gideon's book on her person.
If she was defeated the book would fall into less then desirable hands something that had to be avoided at all costs, even if it meant the life of innocents. Lex walked toward the road, mindful of her surroundings as she stepped off cemetery grounds and onto the sidewalk. Her injuries had been troubling her since the hospital and Lex dropped to her knees gripping her sides as a spasm ripped through her abdomen. The intense throbbing of her stomach was beginning to make her nauseous and Lex winced as she lifted her shirt to reveal the bandage was blood soaked.
"Ooh, Meg'll love me for this," she said as she put her shirt down and forced herself to her feet. "Come on Rom, it's not far to the apartment." She stumbled as a particularly sharp pain again hit her in the gut and the Hunter realized it wasn't only her injuries that were troubling her. Her Hunter Sense was kicking into high gear and despite her self deluding pep talk it was a good distance to the apartment complex. A rustle in the bushes to her left caused her to pick up the pace and Lex moved to the other side of the street. Her slow lope turned into a brisk jog and the Hunter did her best to be observant as she made her way to the apartment. She only needed to make it back to the loft, her weapons were there and she'd stand a good chance of protecting the book.
Lex let out a startled grunt when she felt a rough hand clamp over her mouth and pull her off her feet. The demon drug her into a darkened alley the Hunter struggling in frustration to remove herself of the unwelcome grip. Lex grunted as the demon threw her against a dumpster and she felt the metal dent inwards as she hit. She landed roughly on the littered pavement fighting the urge to cry out as shards of glass from broken bottles bit into her skin.
Unwilling to die so easily Lex rolled out of the demons reach and got to her feet. She kicked the half empty dumpster at the demon, her Hunter Strength putting the force needed into the strike to send it careening towards the monster. The demon was pinned between the dumpster and the wall of the building momentarily but Lex knew he'd work himself free quickly. She jumped on top of the dumpster and took the demon's head in her hands. With a vicious wrench of her arms she snapped the demon's neck and its body went limp. Lex jumped down her feet hardly making a sound as she landed and ran for the streets.
Her salvation was blocked by a horde of demons each looking like the one that stood beside it. They were not dissimilar to the one Lex had just slain either, seven feet if an inch with thick well muscled arms that stretched half its height. Its beady eyes were sunk deep into its head which was heavily plated save for the area under its nostrils. Its teeth looked as though it had been cut from a shark and shoved in upside down giving the demon a ridiculously large under bite. In all there were five of these intensely frightening and wholly unfamiliar demons. Lex shuddered to think of how badly she was about to get beaten. The alley dead-ended no more than 10 meters behind her and the nearest window was two stories overhead. Lex cursed herself as the demons moved toward. Her impatience and lack of foresight was about to cost the world a lot more than a single Shadow Hunter. At the best it would mean the destruction of the Tribunal itself, at worst Lex would be the one personally responsible for the blood of thousands of innocents.
"There!" Brian yelled as he caught sight of Lex's leather coat disappearing into the alley. Megan nodded to show she'd seen and turned the car onto the proper street. She slammed on the brakes when five large demons leapt from the bushes and ran across the deserted road. At a glance they were vaguely similar to the Laox, Azriel, who had kidnapped her but these demons looked far more sinister. They lined up in the alleyway effectively blocking Lex from aid and vice versa. It would likely take a small army to take down one of the demons and there was only she and Brian to help Lexina take out five.
Live hard, die young and all that, she reasoned as she put the small Jeep in gear.
"What the hell are those things?" Brian asked as he stared wide-eyed at the demons.
"Dead meat," Megan responded as she put the pedal to the floor.
Gideon moved quietly through the hospital his boot heels barely making a sound as he moved ghostlike toward his prey. He'd already killed two nurses who'd attempted to stop him from getting to Emma's room, or Athena's room, whichever name one preferred to use. Personally he thought 'Athena' was a touch on the melodramatic side but the woman did tend to have a commanding presence despite her diminutive form. It had taken him years to slowly tear at the threads that held the dimensions apart. The work had been both tedious and frustrating yet here he was about to claim both his property and revenge.
Gideon could almost taste the sweetness of the woman's impending death. The little witch had cost him centuries of work when she'd dropped in on him all those years ago. He had been storing his magical energies since the day the Tribunal had first trapped him in the Other Realms. He'd been less than a month away from being able to disintegrate the barrier between the Other Realms and this dimension when he'd caught Emma in his workroom.
She had been the final ingredient he needed: the blood of an innocent. His first inclination had been to kill her outright but something had held him back. He'd known she was a Protégé from the moment she'd turned up and had thought it might be fun to turn one of the Tribunal's own against them. Fortunately he hadn't had to fabricate anything, only show the girl what had happened to her Dhaskalos through the scrying bowl.
It had been the typical Tribunal betrayal. The Heads of the table hadn't liked what the girl's uncannily perceptive Dhaskalos was saying and had him imprisoned for it. He'd felt the anger surge through her and had been sure the girl was his, especially when she'd offered her blood so freely to him. True, it had been in exchange for a viewing of a book no other living soul had seen but coming from an indoctrinated Protégé it had been promising.
He certainly hadn't expected the pain that came as the girl slipped his knife into his back and slammed him into the wall. Past that point his memory became murky. He remembered the pain of the fire and watching as the Protégé escaped through the portal but beyond that there was nothing. When he awoke his charred body was lying in the remains of his bedchamber and it had taken all of the considerable energy he'd built over the centuries to repair his tissue, rather than using it to lay waste to this dimension as he'd planned.
"Excuse me sir, you can't be in this wing. Visiting hours are…" The man dropped to the ground in a pile of charred flesh as Gideon casually held out an arm and flames shot from his fingertips. The cloyingly sweet smell of burnt human flesh invaded his nostrils and he smiled the comforting scent. The warlock stopped at the door of the room that he instinctively knew held his quarry. Knocking lightly and waiting for the 'come in' Gideon stepped into the room.
Lexina leapt out of the way as Megan's Jeep plowed through three demons and sent them flying.
"Get in!" the reporter shouted as Brian-of all people- opened the door. It was his first mistake and he screamed as the demon grabbed him by the hair and pulled him from the Jeep and into a wall. Megan got out of the Jeep wielding a tire iron and beat at the demon nearest her. Lex went at one of the demons Megan had hit with her vehicle and jumped on its back forcing it to do a face plant. She kicked it along its back and heard the snap of several vertebrae. The demon screamed in a disturbingly high pitch as it flailed its arms, its legs remaining still on the pavement. Lex quickly broke its neck and went to Brian's aid. She kicked the demon's knee and collapsed its leg.
It swung out a long arm and sent Lex crashing into the Jeep leaving a sizeable dent. Not that the car hadn't already sustained a good deal of damage. The hood had dented and popped up during the collision and the front windshield was shattered. Lex shook off the blow and went back at the demon using her small hunting knife and shoved it up to the hilt in between two of the protective plates. The demon let out a shriek and dropped Brian whirling around to face the Hunter. Lex side kicked it in the gut rebounding with a grunt as she bounced off the solid brute. She swept his foot out from under him dropping the demon to the ground.
"Behind you!" Brian warned, Lex arched backwards avoiding the brunt of a roundhouse kick but catching the tail end of the blow. It was enough to knock her senseless and Lex immediately felt her lip split as the demon's heel raked her face. Lex knew she'd been lucky, the demon could easily have taken out her good eye and blinded her completely. The Hunter forced the battle away from Brian, he still had his own demon to worry about. Megan was somewhere behind her the girl's solid strikes audible over the din of the battle. The brunette moved out of reach of the demon flipping onto the dumpster and using her height advantage to kick the demon in the head.
Lex heard the distinct crack of its skull as the demon fell to the ground, thick goo oozing from its mouth. Lex jumped down and ran toward Megan who was somehow managing to fend off two demons at once. Granted one moved sluggishly and rarely made a strike but for an untrained un-enhanced human fighter she was doing remarkably well. One of the demons grabbed the tire iron and backhanded Meg, the girl crashed into the brick wall and dropped to the ground.
Lex used her momentum to run up the wall and did a 180 in mid air shooting out her leg and hitting the demon in the mouth. His jaw broke and more of the goo shot out of his mouth splattering Lex all over. She screamed as the substance began to burn and wiped at her face trying to keep it from damaging her good eye. The Hunter managed to clear it in time to see the demon's strike coming straight for her head. This is gonna hurt, she thought; her last one to register as the darkness overtook her.
Athena looked up at Gideon, the face that had haunted her nightmares for some 25 years. He was handsome, golden shoulder length hair framed a strong clean-shaven jaw. The lips were generous and the nose looked as though it had been handcrafted for his face. It was the eyes that made him evil. Where one would expect a deep brown or penetrating blue, black irises surrounded red pupils. Athena shuddered as he approached trying to sink back into the pillows. Her life was forfeit, that much she already knew. Fully armed and healthy she wasn't sure she would have been able to stop him. Injured in a hospital bed: she was an annoyance. A trifle he had to deal with before moving on to more important things.
"Tisk, tisk, I hoped for more from you Emma," he said as he folded himself into a chair. "I had expected a least a bit of a challenge. That little girl the Tribunal has the nerve to call a Shadow Hunter has been more successful in slowing me down than you have. She deduced who I was, why I wanted the book, it was well done for one so young, you taught her well. Unfortunately I think the student has surpassed the teacher and that makes you…Obsolete." Gideon smiled making Athena cringe, she very much doubted her death was going to be a pleasant one. The Dhaskalos looked to the buzzer that was clipped to the rung of the bed. In moments she could have a swarm of nurses in here, or could she?
Gideon was not one to leave loose ends and unknown possibilities, no, more likely the poor souls he had encountered were dead or wishing they were so. Anyone she called in would be killed before they could be of any use to her. She was not against sacrifice when it served a purpose but she wouldn't waste lives. She turned her attention back to the warlock who held her life in his hands. Athena wouldn't be able to beat him but perhaps she could harm him and put he and Lexina on more level ground. Athena locked her jaw and stared directly into the eyes she feared so much.
"Fulmenos venite!" With a flick of her wrists small lighting bolts shot from her hands and flew at Gideon. He blocked them easily but it gave her time enough to get out of bed and her hand on the door.
"I'm glad you're not making this too easy." Athena saw stars as a scorching light flashed in front of her. She blinked trying to readjust her eyes and was dismayed to find she was totally blind. She touched her hands to her eyes and felt her fingers come away slick. Angrily she shot an energy burst that sprayed the entire room with a large electrical charge. She heard a small groan and a thump. Not wasting a second she pulled the door open and limped down the hall.
Her nose caught the unmistakable smell of burnt flesh and Athena fought back to the urge to vomit as she continued her way down the hall. She had not idea how to get off this floor, she hadn't been out of her room since her arrival and now was certainly not the time for a trial and error search. The Dhaskalos leaned against a wall, her energy level was beginning to become dangerously low. She stumbled over something and fell onto the floor landing hard on her ribs. She struggled for breath as she began to crawl. She couldn't be sure what she'd tripped over but the crispy feeling and the overpowering stench gave her a fairly good idea.
Athena pulled herself to her feet barely managing to get up and around the corner before she heard the soft 'click' of a door opening and closing. Athena felt along the wall for a door, she opened the first one that was unlocked and quietly closed it behind her. The Dhaskalos slipped into the private bathroom and locked the door not knowing what else to do. Her breath froze in her lungs as she heard the outer door open and close and the thud of heavy boots tracing a path around the room. Athena felt ready to pass out as she stood dumbly with one thin barrier keeping her separated from her enemy.
"I know you're here Emma, I can sense your fear." The Dhaskalos held her breath willing herself not to do something foolish like cry. She hated watching those little tarts in movies, crying their eyes out about their imminent deaths. If she was going to die she would at least do it with some modicum of dignity. And Gideon was right, he could sense her, the strength of the cloaking spell that had protected her for so many years had dwindled to nothing. In all reality she knew what that meant, someone or something had taken out Siobhan. In her own weakened state she was unable to compensate for the energy loss.
I'm sorry my friend, I had hoped we would never get to this point, my self righteousness may have doomed us all. The brunette let out a short breath and crossed her fingers. I'll die on my feet before I'll beg on my knees. Her hand was on the doorknob when a fist punctured the wood and grabbed her by the throat.
She let out an undignified yelp as she was pulled into the door and dropped to the ground.
Return to the Academy